Lessons from My Fellow International Students

One of the great aspects of studying in the United Kingdom is that there are so many international students. Some of them are studying on exchange, while others do their whole degree here. Either way it affords me the opportunity to meet people from all sorts of different countries.

Two of the amazing people I’ve become friends with are from Denmark. They have taught me a lot about their home country. Something I found quite interesting was the fact that the east side of Denmark, around Copenhagen, and the west side of Denmark have a friendly rivalry.

“I met one of the coolest people ever while trying out for the handball club here at school. She helped me a lot when I first arrived by explaining how life in Scotland works.”

Copenhagen is on an Island, separate from the mainland and the people from the west say they are “posh.” My two friends happen to be from the opposite parts of Denmark, so it’s always a good time when they bicker about it. Another interesting thing I learned, was that the population is decreasing, as in less babies are being born than people are passing away, so some companies have created ads to try and encourage people to have more children.

The Danish school system is also quite different compared to the U.S. For example, they don’t have to take a test to get into a University, like the SAT for example. What’s more, once they pass what I believe is the equivalent to sophomore year of high school in America, they are able to stop going to school and can start practicing a trade.

The Danish language is intriguing to me because while some of the words I have seen are spelled the same as English words, they are sometimes pronounced quite differently. So now I’m always asking my Danish friends to teach me some of their language, but I don’t think I am retaining it very well!

Another country I’ve been able to learn a little bit about is Spain. I met one of the coolest people ever while trying out for the handball club here at school. She helped me a lot when I first arrived by explaining how life in Scotland works. I attribute my early navigation of Scottish life to her.

A cool thing she has told me about Spain is that the Canary Islands do get snow on their tallest mountain despite being in a tropical climate. The snow melts before very long however. Another of my Spanish friends told me that a part of Spain called Catalonia wishes to separate from Spain and become independent. This would mean Barcelona would no longer be a part of Spain!

Another country I’ve had the pleasure of learning about is Italy. I was told that oral exams were relatively common there (I am very glad that isn’t the case back home). Of course their pasta is famous, but apparently their bread is also otherworldly. Hopefully I get the opportunity to try it.

One of my roommates is from Bulgaria and he showed me some Bulgarian rap. I thought it was pretty good, even though I couldn’t understand it. Additionally, apparently the American hip hop artist Tekashi69 went to Bulgaria on tour before his music blew up and is now really popular there.

Finally, I wanted to share one fact I learned from an English friend (even though England is technically joined with Scotland in the U.K.) because I think it is fascinating. Since the country is very old it has laws from a long time ago that have never been amended or removed. So it is still possible to get the title “Lord” by your name. All you have to do is own land in England and you are technically a lord of an estate.

Now of course you would think that’s not really feasible because land is expensive, especially when it is on an island. However, some people sell really tiny plots of land — about enough to plant a flower on — to people who want the title for about 5 pounds each!

This sounds like an amazing opportunity to me!


Emiliano Estrada is an economics major. He is studying at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom during fall semester.

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